Saving family papers from ‘vile Yankee drawl’

On this day in 1865: Catherine Ann Devereux Edmondston, wife of a Halifax County planter, writes in her journal after hearing the news from Appomattox:

“How can I write it? How find words to tell what has befallen us? Gen. Lee has surrendered! Surrendered the remnant of his noble Army to an overwhelming horde of mercenary Yankee knaves & foreigners. . . .

“For the past few days our constant employment [has been] burning our private papers. . . . The thought of seeing them in Yankee hands, of hearing them read in vile Yankee drawl amidst peals of vulgar Yankee laughter, or worse still, of knowing them heralded abroad in Yankee sensational newspapers, restrained me [from saving any letters]! This has been the fate of thousands of my fellow countrywomen, for the Northern journals teem with private papers stolen from Southern Households and published to a vulgar curious world as specimens of Southern thought, Southern feeling, and Southern composition. When I thought of all this . . . turning to Mr. Edmondston, I buried my face in his lap and fairly wept aloud!”

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